• the Guide Dogs ‘Talking Buses’ campaign

    Labour has consistently supported calls for buses to have audio-visual communication systems.

    I know that a survey by Guide Dogs in 2014 found that seven in ten visually impaired respondents had experienced a bus driver forgetting to notify them at their stop. I understand that this situation could be distressing and potentially dangerous.

    I agree that introducing audio-visual information could make a vital difference to people with sight loss, as well as elderly people who rely on public transport for their independence.

    As you know, the Bus Services Act 2017 enabled the Department for Transport (DfT) to introduce regulations that require bus operators to provide audio-visual information on local bus services. The DfT has indicated that this would include information on the route and direction of service, upcoming stops, and diversions. A related consultation was launched in July 2018, and the DfT has committed to invest £2 million towards installing audio-visual equipment on buses.

    In March 2019, the DfT said that it was still analysing the consultation responses. It also indicated that it expects to announce the next steps regarding the regulations and publication of guidance later in the year. I appreciate that this delay must be frustrating, particularly as audio-visual information on buses could be a transformative policy that makes a huge difference to people’s lives.

    Labour recognises that bus services are lifelines for many people and communities and has committed to provide the investment and regulation we need across the transport sector to ensure that disabled passengers’ rights and freedoms are protected. As part of this, the Opposition would require all bus drivers and staff at bus terminals to complete approved disability equality training.